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Intellectual Property

Towards the Platform Society

After an exciting workshop day, we're now starting AoIR 2016 proper with the opening keynote by José van Dijck from the University of Amsterdam. She begins by noting the work of Tarleton Gillespie on the politics of online platforms, which has been very influential in Internet studies in recent years. Internet platforms are now intricately interwoven in a technical, commercial, and social ecosystem, with a number of leading platforms serving as the major gateways to that ecosystem.

But new platforms are constantly emerging, to systematically connect people to things, ideas, and money. These platforms penetrate all aspects of our public and private lives; in any major area these platforms are important gateways to information and connectivity. A platform in this context is an online site that deploys automated technologies and business models to organise data streams, economic interactions, and social exchanges between users of the Internet, José suggests. They are therefore not simple facilitators, or stand-alone objects, but are intricately connected to each other.

Current Practices in Social Media Data Sharing between Researchers

The next WebSci 2016 presenters are Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda and Katrin Weller, who argue that it is necessary to address the digital divides in data accessibility in social media research. They interviewed a large number of social media researchers, and what emerges from this work is that much data sharing is already taking place, but under varying circumstances.

Automated Assessment of the Validity of Content Take-Down Notices?

The next WebSci 2016 paper session starts with a presentation by Pei Zhang, which introduces what she calls the Content-Linking-Context model, or CLC. The context for this is legislation such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the European e-Commerce Directive, as well as various national legislation in the EU.

Netflix and the Geoblocked Internet

The next speaker in this AoIR 2015 session is Nicole Hentrich, who shifts our focus to the problem of geoblocking in accessing televisual content online. Such Internet content is still controlled on a geographic basis; the Internet is thus not experienced the same by everyone, on both an individual, regional, and national basis.

The Corporate Hijacking of Internet Blackout Protests

The next speaker in this ECREA 2012 session is Tessa Houghton, who begins by noting the 2009 New Zealand blackout of Websites and avatars, in protest against new copyright legislation. This is a form of spectacular viral publicity, and has been repeated in a number of national contexts over the past years – variously protesting copyright or Internet regulations. The anti-SOPA/PIPA blackout of early 2012 is another example for this.

The Emergence of Copygrey Services

Gothenburg.
It’s the last day of AoIR 2010, and the first session I’m attending starts with Jan Nolin, whose interest is in filesharing. He describes this as Internet-based cultural consumption (IBCC), in order to move away from terms like filesharing, peer-to-peer networks, and other more limited concepts. IBCC is a broad and inclusive term, then (though excluding user-led content creation) – it includes societal contexts, technological and economical choices, social relationships, and political and legislative contexts.

IBCC has been important in shaping the Net – it has been in a tug of war pattern between legislation and technology: increased legislation leads to advances in circumvention technology, etc. There was a tech push from filesharers at first, then a legal response, then further evasive technology like Napster, then counter-evasive practices from the industty, and more recently a differentiation between white, black, and grey practices. Most recently there has been a specialisation and commercialisation of grey markets – an emergence of a copygrey business model.

Top-Down and Bottom-Up Copyright Approaches

Gothenburg.
The final speaker in this AoIR 2010 session is Bjarki Valtysson, whose interest is in the politics of access to exchange-oriented processes of mass self-communication – which build on a different arrangement of production, distribution, and consumption processes than we used to have. This is a clash between the politics of access (read/write) and the politics of permission (read-only culture), and there’s a question about how this plays out in digital public spheres.

This can be examined in the context of a number of projects. The Europeana content archive has been hampered by complex polemics regarding online accessibility, the digitisation of collections, preservation, and the storage of content; the same is true for the BBC’s Digital Archives project, for example. Against this, the Wikimedia Commons contains some 7.5 million freely available files which are available under Creative Commons or public domain licences.

Considering Piracy as More than Just a Criminal Activity

Bremen.
It’s too early, too chilly, and too foggy for words – but regardless, the second day of the ‘Doing Global Media Studies’ pre-conference to ECREA 2010 is about to begin. The keynote speaker this morning is Tristan Mattelart, whose focus is on audiovisual piracy - and he begins by noting the substantial attention already paid to this phenomenon, though mainly as a for of 'criminal' activity. He notes that there is a difference between Internet piracy and physical piracy (the sale of counterfeit DVDs and CDs), and that there are differences in such piracy between different countries.

We already know the legal economy of communication in southern and eastern countries pretty well – but that’s less true for the informal economy of communication, which is nonetheless an important aspect of these overall economies. This informal economy plays a central role in the circulation of media and cultural products, in fact – and what Tristan means by ‘southern and eastern countries’ are countries as far afield as Tunisia, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and others.

Sadly, the existing literature on the subject of piracy in southern and eastern countries is voluminous, but very narrow in coverage. It is formed mainly of self-interested reports by copyright industries (MPAA, IFPI, BSA, IIPA), and contains alarmist analysis of the dangers which piracy poses to the movie, music, and software industries. What such reports contain are figures on the calculated ‘losses’ to the industry due to pirated content; many southern and eastern countries especially appear as zones of maximum instability for the industry.

Music Video Parodies as Fair Use

Singapore.
The next presenter at ICA 2010 is Aymar Christian, who continues our focus on YouTube: his interest is on music videos on the site, and he argues that music video remakes shared on YouTube are almost always fair use. User-generated music videos (riffing on official videos) are amongst the most popular genres on YouTube, following in a long tradition (also incorporating professional work, such as the Weird Al videos); music videos and their remakes stand in a postmodernist tradition that may critique representation and reject standard Hollywood narrative (not least also characterised by the emergenceof MTV.

Open Access to Scholarly Information

Krems.
The final speakers in this EDEM 2010 session are Noella Edelmann and Peter Parycek, who begin by highlighting the importance of open access journals, and the mindshift amongst users who now expect to have open access to information.

Open access has caused a stir in the academic community by providing a different model for publication; it is still poorly understood, however: it does not necessarily change peer review processes, for example, though some open access projects do substantially change the approach to scholarly publication. It operationalises the advantages of publishing online by minimising costs and maximising distribution; in doing so, it also creates substantial benefits especially for disavantaged scholars (e.g. from developing countries).

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